Fix the Fly Spray Dance

This article is part of our Fight the Flies Awareness Campaign brought to you by UltraShield.

Practice patience as you teach your horse to stand calmly for fly spray. Photo courtesy of UltraShield.

Does your horse do the fly spray dance? Perhaps they are nervous about the smell, or it’s the sound of the sprayer that makes them do a little jig. Whatever it is, use these tips to introduce fly spray to your horse in a way that will help them remain calm, and learn to stand still.

Introduce fly spray in a safe environment and consider where your horse is before you do this.

Show Him the Source

Let your horse sniff the bottle first and show him what is in your hand. Then, spray a little bit into your hand or on a cloth and gently wipe it on his neck. This will let him get a sense of the smell before you begin spraying. Spray the bottle away from him to acclimate him to the sound of the sprayer. It might be a good idea to start with a sprayer filled with water as you do this; fly spray is expensive!

Move in Silence

If your horse is apprehensive about the sound of an aerosol can or a noisy sprayer, try finding a fly spray bottle that mists quietly. You can also find a high-quality sprayer and transfer your fly spray into it.

Try Without the Smell

Fly spray can smell odd to a horse, especially one not used to it. This can cause him to dance away from you and be squirmy when sprayed. Try misting your horse first with plain water, to get him used to the sprayer without the off-putting smell accompanying it.

Patience and Practice

Have patience with your horse. Being sprayed with a strange substance, from a strange bottle could be a scary experience for him. If he starts to dance away from you, continue to spray the bottle away from him until he settles down. Give him positive reinforcement and praise, and then try again. Understand this might not happen overnight, and that your horse is just reacting the best way he knows how.

Try an Alternative

While you’re working with your horse to get him used to fly spray, try alternative methods to keep him comfortable. Spray some on a cloth and wipe down his legs or try a roll-on or ointment. If flies are a terrible problem at your barn, and you’re struggling to keep your horse comfortable, check into getting him a well-fitted fly sheet.


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